Posted Sun Aug 22nd by Josh Temple
Detroit Lions: 25
Denver Broncos: 20
Denver’s preseason record dropped to (0-2) this Saturday evening, losing in the closing minute to a re-surging Lions squad out to prove they’re not a bottom of the barrel team these days. Invesco Field had great attendance for a preseason game, 73,093. If the crowds were there to see Tim Tebow, they would have to wait, the rookie QB would not dress. It went as scripted, Kyle Orton would lead the offense in the first half and Brady Quinn would play a full second half.
The game started as peculiar for the Broncos as the swirling winds visiting the stadium. Detroit’s first drive was easily marched down to the 28, and capped off with a Hauschka field goal. The freshly heralded Orton overcame offensive mistakes and penalties along with the help of a dumb Kyle Vanden Bosch personal foul to take the ball into Lions territory. On the way past the 50, Orton made one of the brainier throws we’ve witnessed since his arrival in Denver; Brandon Lloyd had corner Chris Houston oblivious to the ball with his speed. Knowing that a reception was unlikely on this 3rd and 5, Kyle still locked the shot and fired at 84 placing it in the vicinity of the speedster’s hands. The ball went incomplete, but with Houston’s terrible positioning he didn’t even get a chance to glance over his shoulder and rammed into Lloyd. Easy call for pass interference, 18 yard gain. Take note of this play, as Orton pulled this trick at least twice against the Bengals secondary. Whether it be through good coaching or growing experience, Orton is showing that he can use more than completions to sustain drives.
As we praise Kyle, he deserves some criticism (albeit small) for the team’s next blunder. A three step drop, Lance Ball (who did a decent job pounding the rock up to this point) breaks off into the left flat being the best option on this given play. Orton fires across his chest, sending the pass high to the running back (but still a very catchable ball) glancing off of #35’s hands and into the arms of former Bronco Dre Bly. The newly reunited corner added some crafty running to turn the INT into a 52 yard return.
Matt Stafford immediately took his team the rest of the way down the field, placing a beautifully thrown ball into left corner of the endzone to an outstretched Megatron. (That’s Calvin Johnson for you older folks at home) Andre Goodman was no match for the lanky and talented wide out, making a graceful play look easy. Denver would take the field one more time in the first quarter, an extended three and out that was drawn out by a holding call. Similar problems would plague the offensive line all night. On the following drive, Detroit drove the ball to the Broncos 9 yard line, where the defense stiffened (the other repeating storyline of the night) and had to settle for another field goal. If there was one redeeming quality of the starting D, it is that they were able to shut things down in the red zone after giving up easy yardage on the other 80% of the field.
The Orange and Blue Offense would come on strong to start the second quarter, Orton showed off his new found ability to sustain drives. Starting on their own 20 and getting off to a bad start with a -7 sack, the Broncos used a mix of Lance Ball running plays with some high percentage passes and two LONG strikes to the new #1 wide out in Denver, Jabar Gaffney. Thus completing the drive with a passing TD to Ball. The kid made up for his earlier blunder by doing a great job of lingering just past the right flat and using quickness and good footwork to peddle and dive across the goal line for the score. Note to runningback: learn how to keep a hand on to that ball though, he fumbled on the landing, TD was still allowed.
Make no mistake, Jabar Gaffney is poised to have a career season in Denver. Last season’s game against KC was no fluke, he thrives in McDaniels’ offense and can be a #1. The defense would give up another 69 yard drive capped by a Hauschka field goal to leave Denver with 59 seconds on the clock. 59 seconds, that’s all it would take for this recharged offense to snatch the lead out of the jaws of a Lion. Using a mix of long darts to Gaffney, Willis, and Branson K.O. had Denver on Detroit’s 11 yard line with 10 seconds remaining in the half. Marquez Branson would run a right quick out route under the coverage, requiring an easy but accurate throw, touchdown. Broncos 14, Lions 16 to end the half.
Brady Quinn took the second string O onto the field only to leave quickly with a disappointing 3 and out. The defense responded forcing Detroit to do the same, 3 and out. However, the following snap was the special teams play of the night, as former Bronco punter Nick Harris booted a 52 yarder to the middle of the field. Returning was Parrish Cox who darted to the left sideline, outran the coverage, found a seam, and just short of one more good block almost took it to the house and was brought down at the Detroit 15. A 5 yard illegal formation penalty tacked on, would put Denver on the Lions doorstep.
Brady Quinn, did not have a good night. On third and eight the backup QB made a terrible decision in holding onto the ball too long and taking the sack, Prater would clean up with a field goal. The following series, QB Shaun Hill was sacked and forced to fumble by Jarvis Moss as he continues his re-emergence. The ball was recovered by a diving Jarvis Green. Broncos start with great field position for the second drive in a row and Quinn comes up short again. On 1st and 10 Brady held on to the ball for what seemed forever to onlookers while clearly having good targets and took a negative twelve yard sack. That is something you just can’t do in the NFL. Quinn was able to whittle his way back into field goal range. Prater lines up, looks as if he knocked the stuffing out of it from my view in the stands, wide left. The offense leaves with no points, 3 points total from two great opportunities.Shaun Hill would lead his squad to another field goal, and Denver would match with Prater behind some grinding done by free agent acquisition Bruce Hall.
Detroit went on to place Drew Stanton into the game at QB, who did a great job of showing off his athleticism, much to the dismay of the Broncos defense. With two minutes left in the game Stanton received the call for a QB sneak on 3rd and 4, the Broncos called a blitz. It would’ve been the right call if Alphonso Smith had made the play. Instead Stanton was able to break the grasp of #22 and out run our corner for 25 yards clean into the end zone. How often does a QB beat a cornerback in a foot race? Denver’s D would hold strong on a 2 point conversion attempt.
If Quinn is the goat of the offense, than Alphonso Smith has to be tagged as the goat of the Defense and Special teams. After letting a QB break his tackle and out hustle him to the end zone Smith made a boneheaded move that will get him embarrassed in the film room this week. Hauschka, using some trickery tried to get a touchback off the side of the endzone, the kick came up one yard short resulting in a penalty giving Denver the ball on the 40. However, Smith was lined up offsides for the return team, resulting in offsetting penalties. Next attempt, kickoff, touchback. Alphonso cost his team 40 yards for a two minute drill.
Quinn would have one last attempt to redeem himself on the night and it started off well. Using a mix of passes, the backup seemed to be showing he was worth his salt, bringing Denver down to the the 2 yard line poised to score with 40 seconds remaining. On 2nd and 10 Quinn was sacked, stripped, and recovered by the Lions defense, putting the bitter frosting on a putrid performance. The Broncos fall due to giving up many a good chance to folly. Such drama for a preseason game.
The Bright Spots:
-Kyle Orton: after a slow start the reigning QB put Denver back in the driver’s seat to finish the first half. He also has learned the “longer” ball. 2 TDs, 1 INT
-Jabar Gaffney: much like Orton he is showing that he should be the #1, no questions asked. Protip: here is your fantasy steal at WR this year.
-Eric Decker: we finally got to see the rookie who we are hoping is the spiritual successor to Ed McCaffrey. He had a good first game, 5 receptions for 66 yards.
-Marquez Branson: Branson stepped up in place of Graham tonight, he followed up his strong performance in Cincinnati becoming a key element on many drives.
– Parrish Cox: They weren’t kidding when they said he was a special teams star at OSU. Eddie Royal has some welcomed competition in the return game.
-Syd’Quan Thompson: Here is one the stats page won’t tell you. Thompson had the tackle of the game, even if it was on special teams possible cementing his place on that squad. Also 1 punt return for 17 yards.
-Jarvis Moss: We’ve heard much about Moss finally “getting it” with his return to camp this year. He provided the only true pressure of the night from the defensive front with a sack and fumble caused.
The Dark Corners:
-Alphonso Smith: Getting a tackle broken and then being beat in a foot race by a QB. Negating a 40 yard penalty by stupidity, and blowing a huge backfield tackle on a reverse. Couldn’t get much worse.
-Brady Quinn: Too many 3 and outs, blown opportunities in scoring position. Sacked for a fumble, again. If Tebow gets healthy and shows he has it, Brady will be sitting third string.
– The O-Line: The re-patched and half rookie line looked like it tonight. Too many mistakes, a lot of penalties. They did help contain Suh to one tackle.
– The Defense: Other than shutting Detroit down in the red zone they just looked bad tonight. They need much improvement over the next 2-3 weeks.